After 22 years of educating, inspiring and encouraging students in all things music, Stelly’s music director Jan Heinrichs left her post at the end of January.
Heinrichs had been teaching for 35 years. Prior to teaching at Stelly’s she spent time in Richmond, Mission and Comox, but Stelly’s was where she made her home.
“I have had such a personal connection with Stelly’s and with the wonderful people here.
“It’s such a supportive family and a nurturing environment. I have been very lucky,” she said.
Heinrichs grew up in a household that valued music, which sparked in her interest in it at an early age. After graduating high school early she attended UBC where she earned a bachelor of music and eventually a masters of music education.
“I was 22 years old when I first started teaching at my first job in Richmond. I wasn’t much older than some of the students,” Heinrichs said, laughing.
Over the years Heinrichs has been involved in countless band, jazz band, choir, vocal jazz and musical theatre productions.
“One of the most amazing things you see gained by the students through music and musical theatre is self confidence. Seeing that is the biggest thrill for me, I never tired of it,” she said.
Most recently Heinrichs wrapped up the school’s musical production of the Music Man, coincidentally the same musical her students performed the first year she started working at Stelly’s.
“I started at Stelly’s in February of 1992 when there was no music teacher. I really didn’t have many students at the time so I worked on building the program,” she said.
To that end, she began work a few years ago on a project to expand the school’s theatre, something she says she’ll continue to work on after retirement.
“It would be my dream to be able to see the theatre project come to fruition because it’s something the school needs so badly,” Heinrichs said, adding that her vision would liken the community aspect of theatre to the climbing wall.
“It would ideally serve as a both a community asset and a school asset just like climbing wall does.”
Heinrichs is now looking forward to spending time with her daughter who attends university in Kelowna, skiing before the end of season and relaxing.
“One of the things I dream of is just sitting down and reading a book while drinking a latte,” she laughed.
Chantel Galveo will be taking over the department until the end of the school year. Also in the performing arts department is Alicia Bate, who Heinrichs taught in years past.
“It’s full circle,” she laughed, adding that past students wanting to return and teach at Stelly’s speaks to the supportive and family-like environment at the school.
Joining Heinrichs in her retirement from Stelly’s are Daryl Drew and Barry Hack. Roger Pires from Parkland Secondary also retired at the end of January after teaching for 27 years.